Rails to the Ring of Fire Mining Camp – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – September, 2011)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business  provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business ianross@nob.on.ca.

For the web’s largest database of articles on the Ring of Fire mining camp, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery

Cliffs endorses Ring of Fire railroad plan

Building a Ring of Fire railroad to move millions of bulk tonnes of chromite is a certainty, said a senior official with Cliffs Natural Resources.

Bill Boor, Cliffs’ senior vice-president of global ferroalloys, who is overseeing the Ohio miner’s project development in the James Bay lowlands, said rail is an inevitability as more mines come on stream in the remote district.

In last winter’s base case for its high grade Black Thor chromite deposit, Cliffs proposed a permanent year-round haul road between the mine site and railway connections near Nakina in northwestern Ontario.

But Boor clarified that one mine alone doesn’t support the mega-investment of a railroad. However, establishing a transportation corridor will improve the economics of other nearby deposits. Once that “scale” is built up, Boor said, “the right answer is to put a railroad in place. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Mining industry hiring requirements to peak in 2011 according to national report released by the Mining HR Council

MiHR is the HR knowledge and research centre for Canada’s minerals and metals industry. www.mihr.ca

To read the report please click this link: Mining Industry Employment and Hiring Forecasts 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA (September 6, 2011) – Human resources challenges continue to threaten the future competitiveness of the Canadian mining industry. A combination of factors including the pending retirement of the baby boom generation, difficulties in attracting and engaging youth and an under-representation of diverse groups paints a challenging ten-year talent forecast. While the industry has taken tremendous strides in addressing these issues, finding experienced and skilled workers is becoming more difficult, and competition across sectors of the economy is increasing, according to a new report released by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR).

The Canadian Mining Industry Employment and Hiring Forecasts 2011 report, an annual publication, includes adjustments to the MiHR forecasting model, namely updates to the economic variables and the Commodity Price Index. The general improvement in the outlook for the global economy and for commodities has led to hiring projections in the 2011 report which have increased from the already substantial numbers of the 2010 report. Continue Reading →

Miner Detour Gold is a major player in the foodservice and hotel business

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

One of the largest hotel and food service operations in Ontario right now is not a resort, or hotel, or casino, it is the Detour Lake mine site located 185 kilometres north and east of Cochrane.   Detour Gold is investing $1.3 billion to bring this open-pit gold project into production by early 2013.  Once in operation, it will be Canada’s largest gold mine.

Access to the mine site from Cochrane is by a provincial two-lane highway and a private company road.  The road trip from Cochrane takes about two and one half hours and crosses several major rivers flowing into the Arctic watershed.  The mine is near the Quebec border and about 100 kilometres south of James Bay.

On any given day at the moment, there could be 1,000 people, or more, on site from Detour Gold and at least 15 contracting companies.  It is a beehive of activity requiring military precision and logistics to feed and house the workers let alone bring in materials to build the mine infrastructure including the processing plant facilities and tailings areas.  Continue Reading →

Price of copper suggests world economy on right track – by Brenda Bouw (Globe and Mail – September 6, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

If copper is worth its mettle in predicting the financial future, it appears the global economy isn’t headed off a cliff after all.

Despite a growing number of indicators that global growth is slowing, the steady price of the red metal, dubbed “Dr. Copper” for its ability to diagnose economic activity, is signalling the economy may not be as sick as it seems.

In fact, copper, a metal used in everything from power and construction to cars and cellphones, looks relatively healthy right now considering the recent commodities sell off.

Copper averaged $4.20 (U.S.) per pound in August, according to Bloomberg, not far from a record $4.60 set six months ago, and dipped only briefly below $4 during the recent market turmoil. On Monday, it closed at $4.06, still considered resilient and at a level that remains highly profitable for most mining companies.

Yet the global economic picture isn’t improving. Continue Reading →

[Labour fatalities] ‘We have lost far too many’- by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – September 6, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

This year, the Sudbury and District Labour Council did something a little different for Labour Day. Breaking from tradition of its usual Labour Day parade in downtown Sudbury, the council instead honoured a prominent figure in the fight for workers’ rights.

On Monday, the Leo Gerard Workers’ Memorial Park in Val Caron officially opened. Gerard, a Sudbury native, is international president of United Steelworkers.

“We have far too many people who have lost their lives on the job,” said Deputy Mayor Ron Dupuis, who came up with the idea for the park. “I know that there are family members here in the crowd that have lost loved ones. We just want you to know that they will not be forgotten. Continue Reading →

Vale now active in Southern, Central and West Africa – by Keith Campbell (Mining Weekly – September 2, 2011)

Mining Weekly is South Africa’s premier source of weekly news on mining developments in Africa’s most important industry.  In order to advance Mining Weekly’s objective of positioning itself as a leading global provider of mining news, a full-time correspondent is based in Toronto, Canada and another in Perth, Australia. 

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – In June, Brazilian diversified mining major Vale, the world’s second-biggest mining company by market capitalisation, reaffirmed that it is set to make major investments in Africa by 2016.

“Our current investment proposal in Africa is to expend more than $12-billion over the next five years, subject to board approval,” Vale Zambia exploration manager Ian Hart told the recent first Zambian International Mining and Energy Conference and Exhibition, in Lusaka.

The peak year in this programme will be 2012, which should see the company invest $3.3-billion in the continent. As of April this year, Vale’s investment in the continent totalled $2.5-billion, reported the Financial Times. Continue Reading →

USW schedules final offer meeting, but talks continue – by John Barker (Thompson Citizen – September 1, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

Nychyporuk says ‘both sides still have intentions of reaching a deal’

USW Local 6166 has scheduled a “final offer” presentation from Vale Sept. 12, but talks continue.

“Vale hasn’t made a final offer, we posted dates just to inform our members when the offer will be … We are currently starting the monetary process and both sides still have intentions of reaching a deal,” Local 6166 President Murray Nychyporuk said Friday night.

The union will present a final offer to the membership Sept. 12 between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion – four days after the union holds a strike mandate vote Sept. 8 at the Steel Centre. The 13-hour strike vote will be held between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Seeking a strike mandate at this point in contact talks is an important but fairly routine part of the collective bargaining process, aimed at giving the union negotiating committee the strongest hand possible while talks go down to the wire, but not necessarily indicating one way or the other the likelihood of an actual strike. Continue Reading →

2008 redux? USW and Vale bargain; Thompson waits – (Thompson Citizen Editorial – August 17, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

On Aug. 6, 2008, an editorial appeared in this space headlined “Thompson’s summer of pause,” which started off by saying, “This might well be known as the summer of the pause in Thompson.” While the editorial mainly looked at some big-ticket capital construction projects that were behind schedule, it was also in a general way a commentary on the very different feel that summer had to the frenetic go-go boom spring and summer of 2007.

Then in 2008 as now there was a mood of watchful anticipation, mixed with a measure of uncertainty in the air, as Vale, as it is now known, was within weeks of its collective agreement expiring with United Steelworkers Local 6166 in mid-September.

In 2007, nickel briefly sold on the London Metal Exchange (LME) that May for a record high of $25.51 per pound. And in November 2007, Vale announced the $750-million expansion of its mining, milling, smelting and refining operations here, aimed at boosting Thompson production by about 36 percent over the coming decade. The cost of the refinery modernization project over five years was estimated to be about $116 million. Continue Reading →

[Manitoba Mining] The Thompson Nickel Belt Sustainability Act – (Thompson Citizen Editorial – July 20, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

The NDP provincial government, through Dave Chomiak, Manitoba’s innovation, energy and mining minister, relatively quietly introduced The Thompson Nickel Belt Sustainability Act on June 2 during the fifth and final session of the 39th Manitoba legislature.

The bill received royal assent June 16 as the legislature rose for the summer awaiting the Oct. 4 provincial election. But the most important part of this very brief 1,200-words or so bill may yet be its last one-sentence section, Section 17, which reads: “This act comes into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation.” In other words, we have a law on the books, an act of the Manitoba government, with no force or effect at the moment.

The Thompson Nickel Belt Sustainability Act is by no means the first piece of legislation provincially or federally across the country to be approved through three readings and receive royal assent only to languish in limbo for an indeterminate time awaiting proclamation (perhaps) in whole or in part into law, and it won’t be the last. Continue Reading →

[Thompson, Manitoba] Talking to ourselves: TEDWG meeting – (Thompson Citizen Editorial – June 29, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

It’s still hard to know at this point just what to make of the Thompson Economic Diversification Working Group (TEDWG), announced jointly May 18 in a news release from the City of Thompson and Vale. The company is funding the group, which is expected to last an initial 12 months for identification and implementation of a strategy to replace the smelter and refinery, scheduled to enter the history books by 2015.

The first public open house and meeting was held at the Letkemann Theatre June 22. Approximately two dozen folks attended and out of that number, maybe two or three were what we could call ordinary regular everyday citizens, as opposed to that inelegant term “stakeholder,” which really means, “I’m here because it’s part of my job to be here (that would, of course, include the two of us from the local media).”

Mayor Tim Johnston was there. Ditto deputy mayor Charlene Lafreniere and councillors Penny Byer and Dennis Fenske (who are also both Vale staff employees), and councillors Stella Locker and Erin Stewart. Continue Reading →

[Thompson, Manitoba Mayor] Johnston hasn’t given up on smelter and refinery – Ryan Flanagan (Thompson Citizen – June 22, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

Nearly a month after the City of Thompson and Vale sent out a press release announcing the formation of the Thompson Economic Development Working Group (TEDWG), Mayor Tim Johnston expressed disappointment at the perception that the creation of TEDWG means that the city is giving up any hope that the Vale smelter and refinery can be saved.

“I get very concerned when I see, hear, and read some of the inaccuracies and assumptions that the public makes, that in no way contribute to moving ahead in a positive manner,” he said as part of his mayor’s report at the May 30 meeting of city council. “All you have to do is pick up the phone or e-mail any member of council and you will get the position of the City of Thompson. In no way is this a concession, or the City of Thompson conceding what may or may not happen in 2015. It is proceeding based on what we are being told will happen in 2015.”

What the city is being told, of course, is that the smelter and refinery will be closed and demolished. Continue Reading →

Vale Manitoba Operations wins safety award – by Ryan Flanagan (Thompson Citizen – June 3, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

In late May, at the Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) 2011 Conference and Exhibition in Montreal, Vale Manitoba Operations was awarded the John T. Ryan Trophy for the safest metal mines in Canada.

The award was given to the T-1 and Birchtree mines, based on having the lowest reportable injury frequency per 200,000 hours worked in Canada. The two mines were actually tied based on the award criteria.

“I could not be more proud of our employees for their performance in winning this award,” said John Pollesel, chief operating officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations. “It is because of our dedication to health and safety principles that we continue to be a national leader in this area.” Continue Reading →

[Thompson, Manitoba] A letter from Lovro Paulic: Vale answers Steve Ashton – Thompson Citizen – June 3, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

Lovro Paulic, General Manager, Smelter and Refinery
Vale, Manitoba Operations, Thompson

To the Thompson Citizen Editor:

Re: “Steve Ashton threatens Vale with provincial mining legislation on smelter and refinery shutdown,” Thompson Citizen online, May 20, 2011.

It was with disappointment that I read comments in the Thompson Citizen recently from MLA Steve Ashton criticizing the City of Thompson and Vale for their decision to launch a process designed to strengthen and diversify the city’s economic base.

It has been more than six months since Vale announced plans to transition its operations to mining and milling by 2015. It was a decision made after years of careful consideration and analysis. Now, it is time to move forward.

This is no longer a story about Vale – it is a story about Thompson and the need to ensure its prosperity for the future. Even in the face of fundamental disagreements, I think everyone would agree that working collaboratively to attract jobs and investment to Thompson is a good thing. Continue Reading →

Steve Ashton threatens Vale with [Manitoba] provincial mining legislation on smelter and refinery shutdown – by Ryan Flanagan (Thompson Citizen – June 3, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

Minister says if 1956 agreement isn’t going to be relied on by company, then all bets are off

It’s been more than six months since Vale announced their plans to close their Thompson refinery and smelter by the end of 2015, and more than three months since a group of local stakeholders traveled to Toronto to present Vale senior management with their proposals to reverse that decision, or at least minimize its impact on Thompson.

What’s changed in that time? To hear Thompson MLA Steve Ashton tell it, nothing.

“We’re disappointed, provincially, and I’m certainly disappointed that Vale is still not addressing the direct issue,” said Ashton on May 20. “We continue to believe that the issue here is value-added jobs from the resource, and we certainly have not given up on the smelter and refinery.” Continue Reading →

[Thompson, Manitoba] Birchtree Mine: On the ramp at the 300-foot level – by John Barker (Thompson Citizen – June 3, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  news@thompsoncitizen.net

Vale Manitoba Mine Rescue teams show their stuff

They’re the elite: The best of the best. The miners who volunteer and train rigorously to go underground in hazardous conditions to rescue their fellow miners in the event of a fire, smoke, explosion or some unknown event, and restore the mine to a safe working condition, as Stu Waring, general manager for mining and milling, and the number two guy at Vale’s Manitoba Operations, describes the work they do.

The 2011 Provincial Manitoba Mine Rescue Competition was held May 27 and 28 at Vale’s Manitoba Operations in Thompson with the winning team this year from San Gold in Bissett. The event rotates to a different mine site in the province every year. Next year’s Manitoba Mine Rescue Competition will be held at Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting Co. Ltd. in Flin Flon. Continue Reading →